‘Dr. Death’: Cynthia Vanis on What It Takes to Get Joshua Jackson and the Rest of the Stars Ready

Dr. Death was likely one of the series you streamed this past summer. The docudrama stars The Boss Baby’s Alec Baldwin, Dawson’s Creek’s Joshua Jackson, and Pump Up the Volume’s Christian Slater. The series is based on the true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch, who was charged for seriously injuring patients during surgery. He lost his medical license in 2013 and was arrested in 2015.

One of the patients Duntsch reportedly injured is Mary Erfund. Duntsch performed her spinal surgery in 2012. After the surgery, Erfund had to use a wheelchair, reports CBS 4 Denver. The news outlet says Duntsch severed a nerve root and left screw holes in the woman’s spine.

Christian Slater and Joshua Jackson pose on the red carpet at the Dr. Death premiere.
Christian Slater and Joshua Jackson attend the pre-screening reception for the premiere of Peacock’s “Dr. Death” | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Showbiz Cheat Sheet recently spoke to celebrity hairstylist Cynthia Vanis, one of the people responsible for styling the actors on the Peacock TV series Dr. Death. She and her team worked to make sure the actors were camera-ready. She discussed her work on the show and what her career journey has been like so far. Here’s a peek into our chat.

Showbiz Cheat Sheet: What was your process for styling hair for ‘Dr. Death’?

Cynthia Vanis: We had so many jumps in time that we had to make sure the hair coordinated. We see Joshua Jackson’s character in college, so I wanted to play into a hockey mullet. We needed something to take us back in time, so wig maker Jennifer Renée Mullins built a hairpiece for him that I then cut and colored.

I brought his hair forward, taking his hairline back to Josh’s younger Pacey years. I used a small flat iron to create the same natural texture in the hairpiece. On paper it didn’t seem like much of a hair story, but all the subtle changes helped to sell the time jumps.

CS: What would you say is the most challenging part of creating hairstyles for ‘Dr. Death’?

Cynthia Vanis smiles
Cynthia Vanis | Courtesy of Impact24 PR

CV: The pandemic! It was my first show back after not being able to work and we had new safety measures in place that made staying on top of our actors more difficult. At first, we weren’t allowed to do last looks on set and hair moves. So, it was always a little more stressful making sure everything stayed where it was supposed to. Although the safety measures were a little challenging at the beginning, I’m so grateful to the production for doing their best to keep everyone as safe as possible.

CS: Out of all the projects you’ve worked on, which one was the most memorable hairstyling job? Why?

CV: I will never forget my experience on Dr. Death because it was such a crazy time in the world to be working. But I also loved my time on Younger because I got to create so many fun hairstyles. Katy Keene was also huge! It was such a hair show. We had so many fun drag wigs and creating Gloria’s look based off her comic book character was a highlight for sure. My current movie Not Okay is one for the books, too!

Stay tuned for the second part of our chat.

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